Capturing the Heart of Leadership: Spirituality and Community in the New American Workplace

By Gilbert W. Fairholm | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
Spiritual Leadership at Work

Like anything else, spiritual leadership is susceptible to structure and system, to form and format. Many people are conscious of their spiritual side and respond to it in most circumstances. Unfortunately, there is little to guide us in its application in the more or less prescribed confines of the organization or in terms of the strictures of process and procedures peculiar to corporate life. Nevertheless, we are also responsive to the force of our spiritual standards at work. The work we do, the people we interact with, and the skills we use all challenge or reinforce our sense of self; they have a spiritual dimension.

Work can be a drain on our spiritual capacity. It can also be a source of renewal and growth. Our work situations are a powerful part of our sense of self. Work defines in large part who we are socially and, perhaps, who we are at our core self. When that work is sensitive to our spiritual needs we grow and mature. Spiritually attuned colleagues can provide role models, sustain values and principles we learned in the family or in church, and otherwise reinforce our spiritual nexus. When our work ignores, or is actively antagonistic to our spiritual sensibilities, we encounter stress, sometimes so severe that we experience physical or emotional trauma.

Leaders who accept the challenge to relate to followers in terms of a shared reverence for things spiritual can add another tool to their professional tool kit. Spirituality helps leaders understand self and others better. It helps the leader motivate and inspire others. In understanding another's values and beliefs, leaders learn to know their co-workers bet-

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